Peyton Hillis: Should the Cleveland Browns Bring Him Back?

Hayden GroveContributor IIIJanuary 4, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 24:  Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the sidelines during the closing moments of the Browns 20-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Peyton Hillis has been an enigma. 

The big stud out of Arkansas has been anything but this season. After contract disputes, strep throat and a mysterious leg injury, Peyton Hillis has created a lot of negative buzz in Cleveland. 

The Browns finished 4-12 this season, which is viewed as a big disappointment by Browns fans who were looking to improve upon last season, and many believe it's thanks to Hillis. 

The Madden Cover boy's stats from this season are as follows:

9 games, 161 attempts, 587 yards, 3 touchdowns

While the stats look bad, that may not even be the worst of it. Hillis has looked disgruntled all season thanks to his contract troubles, has missed team events, isolated himself in the locker room and has voiced his displeasure in the Browns organization. 

The question is this: Bring back the Winnebago or let the seemingly immature Hillis go?

The Browns have the fourth pick in the draft, and quite honestly, it wouldn't be the most difficult thing in the world to replace him. There's a guy out of Alabama who could do that quite easily. The fact of the matter is, if Hillis could return to form, that would free up room to bring in a Justin Blackmon or Alshon Jeffry to help a depleted group of receivers. 

The Browns don't seem to be looking at a QB, meaning that they're relying on Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace to get the job done in the coming years. Even Aaron Rodgers couldn't do much with the guys the Browns have on the offense. 

Dealing with Hillis is going to set the tone for what the Browns are going to do this offseason. 

If they bring him back, that means they are going to rely on him to be the White Rhino that the Browns remember from the 2010 season. They are going to place their faith in him and hope he can stay injury free and be happy in Cleveland. 

If they let him go, that means that Mr. Holmgren will be ready to revamp the entire offense from head to toe, and if he doesn't, Browns fans will be calling for his head very quickly. 

It's been tough to formulate an opinion on whether or not the Browns should bring back Hillis. 

In the middle of his troublesome 2011, it was easy to want him to go, but his return near the end of the year showed that he can be the back we expect him to be. 

I've decided that if he wants to stay, the Browns have to let him. 

Keeping Hillis could really quick start the revamp of the Browns offense and allow them to acquire the talent they need to help Colt and Seneca. Freeing up a draft pick allows for the Browns to also get some much needed help at the linebacker position. 

However, if Hillis is going to be angry in a Browns uniform and a distraction in the locker room, you have to let him go. But let's hope Hillis is committed to being a helpful member of this Browns football team for years to come, because if he is, the Browns could be a better team much sooner than without him.